So it comes down to this. The final race of the long NASCAR season. After 35 points paying races, the final 4 drivers who will race for the championship Sunday have been decided.
Since the elimination format to decide a champion was introduced two years ago the champion has also won the race. Odds are then that the winner of the race Sunday will also wear the Cup crown. Others can win, but three of the last five race winners dating back to Tony Stewart in 2011, have also won the title, so don’t be surprised if the driver celebrating a race win in victory lane Sunday, is also celebrating his championship.
Here’s how it shakes out among the four finalists for Sunday’s 36th race of the year for your betting or fantasy racing leagues. Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2016 races (23 total) among active drivers at Phoenix . The Driver Rating is a number based on a formula developed by NASCAR which combines “loop data” elements such as average running position, average speed under green, number of fastest laps, and other stats. There is a maximum of 150 points that a driver can earn for each race. The odds are current as of Wednesday.
1. Carl Edwards (7-1). Edwards has two wins here and the highest driver rating among the 4, 109.4 . The only driver among the Championship 4 with multiple wins at Homestead, Edwards still has memories of losing the race, and the title, to Tony Stewart in 2011. Part of the Joe Gibbs Racing team, Edwards will be looking for redemption Sunday, and he might just get it.
2. Jimmie Johnson (7-2). Homestead is one of the few tracks in NASCAR that Johnson has never won at. He runs well here though and has the second highest driver rating of the 4, 96.7. Johnson will be looking to make history Sunday with a seventh title. If he brings his “A” game and can avoid some of the miscues the team has suffered this season at times, Johnson could just pull it off.
3. Kyle Busch (5-1). Busch is looking to defend his title, earned with a win at Homestead last year. He has the third highest driver rating, 95.5. But he barely made the Championship 4, and has struggled at times. However, with one last race and a chance to add another title, and Joe Gibbs Racing behind him, Busch could be in position to add another win, and another title.
4. Joey Logano (7-1). Logano is perhaps the underdog among the Championship 4. He has never won at Homestead, has the lowest driver rating among the field, 83.5. But Logano finished fourth here last year and led the second most laps in the race, 72. Logano has been surprising at times this season and he could certainly be a surprise Sunday by winning his first Cup title.
OTHERS: There will be a total of 36 other drivers trying to win Sunday. Chief among them, Matt Kenseth (12-1). Kenseth has the second highest driver rating among the field, 108.4, and won here in 2007. Coming off a disappointing finish at Phoenix last week, Kenseth will be looking to make a strong statement. Kevin Harvick (6-1) was also disappointed last week as he failed to make the cut for the first time since the elimination format began. He won the race, and the title in 2014, has the fifth best driver rating, 104.3, and could add another win to his Homestead resume Sunday.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be run on Sunday, November 20. Live coverage will be on NBC starting at 2:00 p.m. ET with the green flag coming just after 2:30 p.m. ET.